Top-seeded Beaver gets past Burrell to reach semifinals
The anatomy of an upset often includes a fast start and the ability to capitalize on golden opportunities.
Burrell didn't achieve either in a 2-0 loss to top-seeded and undefeated Beaver on Monday afternoon at Hampton in the WPIAL Class AA softball quarterfinals.
The Bucs (13-4) gave up a run in the bottom of the first inning after a double by Beaver pitcher Casey Farkasovsky scored Tayven Rousseau.
It was all the offense Farkasovsky would need. The sophomore tossed a five-hit shutout, striking out eight and walking two.
“She's been strong all year,” Beaver coach Butch Rousseau said. “She's been our best hitter all year. She's come through in the clutch a number of times just like that. She's just been great all around.”
“They have a good pitcher, and they're a well-coached team,” Burrell coach Mike Spagnolo said. “The girls came out a little tentative, and it caught up with them.”
Despite the early hole, freshman pitcher Kasey Wolford kept Beaver (14-0) within reach.
“We made it a game. I was proud of how they battled and stayed in it. I think this Beaver team is going to win it all and we showed a lot of character by hanging in there,” Spagnolo said. “The opportunities that we had, we didn't cash in with the timely hits, and that's it. When you have a good team like that, a good pitcher like that, you have to cash in when you have the opportunity.”
Burrell left runners at first and second during the third and fourth innings, but its best chance to score surfaced in the top of the sixth.
Still trailing only 1-0, Ashley Szymkowiak doubled in the right-center gap, and Jaila Manga followed with a single. Manga watched the throw come into the infield, took off for second base and beat the tag. But Szymkowiak was caught lingering off third and was eventually tagged out in a rundown. Manga wound up hustling to third, narrowly avoiding a double play.
Farkasovsky escaped the threat unscathed by retiring the next two batters with a pop-up to second base and a strikeout.
“I think the girl was just caught up in the moment. She didn't realize the urgency of that situation,” Spagnolo said of the mishap on the bases. “That was a big play, and we ended up getting nothing out of that. That was the ballgame.”
The Bobcats added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. Ashley Kondrack singled to lead off and Bella Valent, facing a outfield shift favoring a pull hitter, went the other way with line drive to right field. Valent was gunned out at third, trying to stretch a double into a triple, but Kondrack scored with ease for a 2-0 edge.
“It was great,” Rousseau said. “That's what we needed.”
Facing the bottom of the lineup in the top of the seventh, Farkasovsky set the Bucs down in order to secure the win. The Bobcats will face Keystone Oaks, a 6-0 winner over Waynesburg, in the semifinals Wednesday at a site and time to be determined.
Monday marked the final high school game for Burrell seniors Szymkowiak, Manga, Kelsey Oddis and Melissa Mazzei.
“We had a great year for the group that we had, with a freshman pitcher and freshman catcher,” Spagnolo said. “I think the future looks good.”